TF1, France’s privately-owned number one TV channel, has become the first to offer ‘social VOD’ in Europe, directly on the world’s largest social network. Indeed, Warner‘s well-documented efforts in this domain are US-only for now.

The service is being launched with a recording of French comedienne Florence Foresti‘s latest stand-up show, “MotherFucker” (photo), to which TF1 owns the video distribution rights. Hugely popular in France, Foresti has 1.3 million Facebook fans, and was as such a natural choice to launch the service, which is based on TF1 Vision, the broadcaster’s VOD offering.

The service is a Facebook app, which uses an embedded player made with Microsoft’s flash alternative Silverlight, enabling fans to watch MotherFucker for €3.99 ($5.70), or 60 Facebook credits, in streaming directly within Facebook. They can also share the trailer with friends so that they too can buy the film; or buy it for a friend, as a gift. The most active ‘sharers’, however, do not receive discounts; nor is the app mobile-compatible. Future improvements to hope for?

Still, the service is a promising next step for entertainment, after Warner’s first tryout of Facebook VOD with The Dark Knight – which it has just followed up with Inception and four more films – as the social features effectively allow Foresti’s fans to become her online distributors.

Furthermore, this should be the first of many similar ventures. Present at TF1’s laucnh conference (with his boss, Christian Hernandez), Julien Codorniou, Facebook France’s head of platform partnerships, said “anyone can offer (social) VOD on Facebook: it’s just that TF1 is the first to do so.”

“Facebook is a unique distribution and monetisation platform which is truly compelling for rights-holders,” Codorniou told MIPBlog after the conference. “Technically speaking, the entire platform is self-service and well-documented. Any developer can develop applications, without Facebook’s intervention or permission.”

As for revenue split, Facebook takes 30% when content is pad for with Facebook credits: a currency already popular in online gales such as Farmville. TF1 takes 100% of the €3.99 credit card payment.

So could Facebook eventually become the next iTunes? Time will tell…

About Author

As Head of Social Media for Reed MIDEM, James Martin oversees social strategy and deployment for B2B events MIPTV and MIPCOM, Midem (music industry) and MIPIM & MAPIC (real estate & retail). He is based in Reed MIDEM's Paris office.

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